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Why Goose Dogs?


Goose dogs, specifically Border Collies, are specially trained herding dogs that are extremely effective for keeping geese out of areas where they are considered a problem. They are the method of choice for large open areas such as golf courses, airports, parks, school ground recreation fields, corporate parks, etc. When using goose dogs, results are immediate; the geese leave the area.

 

Border collies have been bred for their herding abilities and intelligence for hundreds of years. Properly trained, they can move geese to the rough, keep them in the pond or scuttle them off to adjacent property. "If the dog is taught that the pond is the geese's pasture, then he will put them there. If he's taught that the swampy area of the rough is where they belong, he puts them there," says one prominent breeder. "To him, they're his livestock and you are his shepherd. You say, 'That'll do,' and that tells him the geese are where you want them." The collies have been known to move geese even in locations where nothing else has worked. Unlike noise makers and other mechanical means, the dogs remind geese of a natural enemy. "To the geese, he is a fox. He is a predator. If the dog comes out twice a day, their little goose minds record two foxes. Three times a day, three foxes. It doesn't take much to persuade the geese that this is just not a good place to settle and raise a family."

 

Trained Border collies use their eyes and feet to herd their quarry. The dog runs to position itself in front of the animals, and then it gives them a look known as "the eye." While the wolf-like gaze of Border Collies is incredibly frightening to geese, these dogs will not harm them or children.Rather than face the dog's gaze, the stock -- be it sheep, cattle or geese -- turn away. The eye is the tool the Border collie uses to intimidate stock into directional movement. The dogs use "the eye" on geese to herd them and keep them moving until they leave the area. Border collies do not bite or catch geese. In most cases, the birds fly off long before the dog gets that close. In any case, the Border collie's natural instinct is to herd, not harm, and it will only nip a goose in self-defense. Some sheep herders' Border collies are even taught to hold the leg of a lamb gently in their teeth until the shepherd arrives to give it medical treatment or a vaccination.

 

Border collies respond to simple verbal and hand commands. The dogs can learn a variety of words and phrases, enabling the handler to command them to jump into a golf car or get in a kennel, as well as herd geese.

Praise of Border collies abounds. "There's just no comparing Duke [a Border collie] to the things I've tried over the years. Everything they told us has worked better than we imagined it would. This by far exceeded our expectations," says one gold course superintendent. "We had 650 geese a day before, now we have no geese at all. Some will try to come in, but not for long..." One golf course also has ducks that the membership enjoys. Border collies can be trained to leave them alone. From a public relations point of view, the Border collie is described as "worth every penny."

 

(Sources: Coalition to Prevent the Destruction of Canada Geese website; Defense Pest Management Information Analysis Center - Armed Forces Pest Management Board Technical Bulletin 1996)

 

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